BEARS and wolves are once again prowling the Irish landscape with the opening of a new animal sanctuary on the Derry-Donegal border.
Wild Ireland, which opens tomorrow, is home to three European wolves, three bears, a lynx, wild boar and other animals.
Lawyer and zoologist Killian McLaughlin has established the sanctuary close to the White Oaks Retreat Centre between Muff and Burnfoot in Co Donegal.
Once common in Ireland, wolves and brown bears became extinct as the country’s forests were cut back.
Mr McLaughlin has sited the new sanctuary on a small forested area.
“It comes as a shock to people that all of these animals were once native to Ireland. People have become emotional that they didn’t know,” the Donegal man said.
“Wolves only became extinct in Ireland in 1786 which isn’t that long ago. There were so many wolves here that Ireland was once known as ‘wolf land’.
“Even Shakespeare refers to the cry of the Irish wolves; so they’re back, they’re howling over the hills of Donegal again.”
Wild Ireland’s forest and lake is also home to a wide variety of birds and even a pair of otters.
It will be open from 10am to 4pm daily and Mr McLaughlin said he hopes it can educate the public about the history of Ireland’s wildlife.
For further details see www.wildireland.org or @wildirelandorg on Facebook.